Fixed weather radar “dead zone” in East Texas

Fixed weather radar “dead zone” in East Texas

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – For years, East Texas has faced unpredictable weather.

Hearing a meteorologist on television advise you to take shelter in a windowless interior room in a site-built structure with the wind blowing outside can seem like a matter of routine in Piney Woods. Many of these storms appear to retreat without warning, leaving locals wondering how weather radars couldn't have picked up the threat sooner.

The explanation lies in two major urban areas to our east and west. KETK's Neil Barton sat down with newly elected U.S. Rep. Nathaniel Moran to shed light on the issue.

Radar issue

Next Generation Weather Radar, or NEXRAD, is a system of Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force. It detects wind and rain and maps precipitation patterns and movement.

East Texas is between the closest weather radars in Fort Worth and Shreveport, with neither reaching our entire area.

Map of NEXRAD coverage, with the East Texas dead zone highlighted in red

“For those who didn't know we had this problem, we have this radar system in Fort Worth (and) we have one in Shreveport. Because they're so far away, we can only see those higher-level features, and we can't see the lower-level features,” Moran explained. .

Giving people a proper warning during severe weather is vital and can mean the difference between life or death, an issue that expands beyond politics. Moran said this is an issue that Dan Crenshaw (R-Humble) will take steps to address as well.

“Dan Crenshaw understands this as well, he is from deep within East Texas and he has a bill on this issue as well that would help sell the idea with appropriators as we move forward to determine how taxpayer money is spent at the federal level.” Moran said.

There was a Longview radar site, Neil Barton explains, that assisted the area before NEXRAD was used:

what happens

As a solution, Moran has a proposal to study these radars and their shortcomings, which he hopes will lead to long-term changes for the better.

He sponsored Rural Weather Observation Systems ActWhich he submitted in July. This draft law requires study of the following information:

  • Capacity of existing rural weather monitoring systems.
  • Geographic differences in the availability and effectiveness of rural weather observing systems.
  • Availability of resources to rural areas to produce better weather monitoring systems.
  • Number of rural areas affected by unreliable or unavailable accurate rural weather observing systems.
  • Need for up-to-date weather monitoring in rural areas.
  • Obstacles faced by rural areas in obtaining and updating rural weather reporting systems.

“If we are successful, what we're talking about here is building data and information to then use in next year's appropriations process and moving forward to get something done next year with a financial marker in front of it.” Moran said.

Moran said he has not encountered any resistance to the bill, which he hopes will be passed by the end of the year. Although this is a quick timeline, he wants to achieve this by attaching it to a related bill that does not normally face much resistance.

He added: “So far, no one has responded.” “We hope that this bill will be included as part of a larger weather reauthorization bill later this fall. If it is included as part of this larger bill, it will be much better for us, a much easier process through the House and Senate and we hope that It is passed into law.

Moran explained that this is a first step in getting the coverage East Texas needs. However, any delay in solutions could mean big problems for Piney Woods. To help bridge the gap, storm spotters play an important role in severe weather situations, braving conditions to give meteorologists a real look at storms from the ground, as shown below:

To watch the full conversation, including: Questions submitted by viewerswatch East Texas in Focus on FOX51 News at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

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